Developing a Crisis Communications Plan
In the budget-cutting, governmental-stalemate, defective-product, bankruptcy-filing, corporate world that we live in today, it is of utmost importance to protect your company’s image and the image of those associated with it by having a crisis communications plan in place.
Before disaster strikes, here are the steps to take in developing a crisis communications plan that will ensure you are prepared:
- Assemble a crisis team/decide on a spokesperson. Put thoughtful consideration into this. The team will ultimately be in charge of the dissemination of information and will serve as points of contact. The spokesperson should engage in a media training session and will serve as the face of the company in the time of crisis.
- Identify potential audiences and key influencers. Build a list of contacts and their information, and work to keep it updated. This should include anyone with a vested interest in a crisis about or affecting your company.
- Develop the plan. The plan will consist of precautionary steps, as well as detailed actions to take once a crisis has occurred.
- Prepare a list of possible crises and responses for each. Anticipation is key! This could be embezzlement to a natural disaster, and anything in between. Having a realistic set of possible crises and planning responses for them will allow your company to appropriately prepare.
- Keep your finger on the pulse. Always track what is being said about your company online, publicly and in the media.
But, just like everything else in today’s world, there must be an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new, integrated approach to a crisis communications plan. With the prominence of social media, the good, the bad and the ugly can and will “spread like wildfire.” Gerald Baron, a crisis communications expert, said, “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant.”
Developing a Crisis Communications Plan is just one aspect of the “Crisis Conundrum.” Read Part 2 of our series on social media and online crisis communications – “Crisis Communication in Real-Time.”